A Sales Tax Holiday Can Help You Save on Back-to-School Shopping

Your state may offer a break on clothing and school supplies, and in some cases, much more

By Mary Beth Quirk, Beth Braverman

We know it may feel like summer’s just getting started. But if you’re already thinking of back-to-school shopping, you may get a price break in the next few months.

Though 45 states and the District of Columbia typically collect sales tax, more than a dozen have decided to either cut the amount of sales tax they charge or not charge sales tax at all during various weekends this summer, according to the Federation of Tax Administrators. And the savings apply to all shoppers in those states, even if you aren’t going back to school.

While shopping, keep in mind that most states have limits on how much you can purchase without paying taxes. Tennessee, for example, forgives its full 7 percent state sales tax on computers that cost up to $1,500. South Carolina, on the other hand, doesn’t place a dollar limit (PDF) on eligible purchases and even exempts add-ons such as clothing alterations and delivery charges.

In 2022, consumers spent an average of $864.35 on back-to-school shopping according to the National Retail Federation, a trade organization. Depending on where you shop, the savings could really add up.

Tax Breaks by State for 2023

Arkansas: August 5 to 6
Clothing that costs less than $100 per item as well as school art supplies under $50 per purchase, and select textbooks and school supplies (PDF) costing less than $50 per item.

Connecticut: August 20 to 26
Connecticut’s 2023 tax-free week breaks include certain clothing and footwear that sell for less than $100 per item.

Florida: July 24 to August 6
The back-to-school tax break in Florida applies to learning aids and jigsaw puzzles selling for $30 or less; certain school supplies that sell for up to $50; clothing, footwear, and other accessories that cost up to $100 per item; certain school supplies that sell for up to $50; and the first $1,500 of the sales price of personal computers and some computer-related accessories. You can get more details from Florida’s Department of Revenue (PDF).

Iowa: August 4 to 6
Iowa’s sales tax holiday includes select clothing and footwear (PDF) costing less than $100 per item. This list (PDF) shows taxable items first, then exempt items.

Maryland: August 13 to 19
If you need to buy a backpack or book bag, there’s no tax on the first $40. There are also other items covered (PDF), including qualifying clothing and footwear costing up to $100 per item.

Massachusetts: August 12 to 13
Retail items of up to $2,500 purchased in Massachusetts for personal use will be exempt from sales tax. It’s worth noting that if the item exceeds the $2,500 threshold, shoppers will have to pay tax on the full price, not just the amount over that limit. Exceptions to the holiday include cars, gas, telecom services, and others. For more info, check out the Massachusetts Department of Revenue’s guidance.

Mississippi: July 28 to 29
Mississippi’s 2023 sales tax holiday includes qualifying clothing, footwear, and school supplies that sell for less than $100 per item.

Missouri: August 4 to 6
Missouri’s 2023 sales tax holiday applies to clothing that costs up to $100 per item, school supplies up to $50 per purchase, computer software up to $350, and computers and computer accessories up to $1,500.

New Mexico: August 5 to 7
New Mexico’s 2023 sales tax holiday includes qualifying clothing costing less than $100, computers for less than $1,000, computer-related items such as printers and monitors for less than $500, handheld calculators for less than $200, and school supplies for less than $30. Here’s a full list of eligible items from the New Mexico Taxation & Revenue Department site (PDF).

Ohio: August 4 to 6
Instructional materials that your kids may need at school are tax-free as long as they cost $20 per item or less. So are school supplies. Ohio’s 2023 sales tax holiday also includes qualifying clothing that costs up to $75 per item.

Oklahoma: August 4 to 6
Oklahoma’s 2023 sales tax holiday (PDF) includes qualifying clothing and footwear that costs less than $100 per item.

South Carolina: August 4 to 6
If your back-to-school list includes printers, software, bed linens, and even footwear, South Carolina’s 2023 sales tax holiday (PDF) is a good time to make these purchases.

Tennessee: July 28 to 30
Tennessee’s 2023 sales tax holiday includes qualifying clothing that costs up to $100 per item, school supplies up to $200, and computers and tablets up to $1,500.

Texas: August 11 to 13
Texas’ 2023 sales tax holiday includes qualifying clothing, footwear, backpacks, and school supplies costing less than $100 per item.

West Virginia: August 4 to 7
During this year’s sales tax holiday in West Virginia, shoppers won’t have to pay sales tax on exempt items like certain clothing up to $125; laptop and tablet computers up to $500; general school supplies up to $50; and some sports equipment that costs $150 or less.

Product Picks

While you’re preparing to shop, check out some of CR’s top-rated laptops and tablets below.

Asus VivoBook K3502ZA-OH76

Apple MacBook Air 13-inch (2022, M2, 8 Core)

Lenovo Yoga 7i 16

Amazon Fire HD10 Plus 32 GB

Apple iPad (64GB)-2021

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